When Kirill Gerstein plays the piano, even the most powerful passages come across as transparent, almost weightless. His playing breathes naturalness and ease, yet at the same time each note feels well-placed, and every measure completely thought out. In an interview the artist once said that in the works of great composers there are no “trivialities”. This attitude shapes his way of making music, as listeners immediately notice. After his concert debut with Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra in 2000, the young Russian’s international concert career rapidly gathered pace: Kirill Gerstein won the International Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv in 2001, followed by critically acclaimed debuts with the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Munich and Viennese Philharmonics, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics, among other orchestras, as well as at the Salzburg Festival and the Lucerne Festival.
In April 2016 he debuted on the orchestra concerts of the Berliner Philharmoniker, playing Sergei Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto conducted by Semyon Bychkov; he has also been heard in recent years as a chamber music partner of Philharmonic musicians. Now he will perform a solo recital of his own in the Philharmonic concert series Klavier for the first time. His programme is called A Journey through Central Europe, which also spans a timeframe from Viennese classicism to contemporary music. The principal destinations on this evening are Austria and Hungary. Hungarian music is especially central to his recital – in different variants: as a march or czárdás, virtuosically developed by Franz Liszt, as Variations on a Hungarian Song by Johannes Brahms, as a piano sonata by Béla Bartók and pianistic lessons by György Kurtág. Two works of the evening are based on folk songs: Joseph Haydn was inspired to his Fantasia in C major by an Austrian peasant song; and Franz Schubert based his monumental Wanderer Fantasy on the melody of his own song “Der Wanderer”.